Money City: Our New Game To Explore The Future Of Money Is Now Available To Everyone

from the welcome-to-money-city dept

As folks may know, over the past few years, the Copia Institute (the think tank arm of Techdirt) has been building out a series of games — both of the tabletop variety and for events (both in person and virtual). It began with an election simulation we helped to design with some political consultants (which got a lot of attention for bizarre reasons) and has included a number of other projects, including making a boxed version of a CIA training game, a scenario planning game that was used to inspire science fiction writers to write about the future of work, an election disinformation simulation game, to a fun game to explore a variety of future timelines by looking backwards from the future, and a game workshop to explore the future of AI (the results of which are about to be used in a new X-Prize competition).

We’ve just created a Copia Gaming page about all of our many game related projects, and we have many more in the pipeline. We believe, quite strongly, that games are the perfect tool for explaining the present and exploring the future, and we use our games for both purposes. The games for explaining the present, such as the election simulations and the CIA training game, take on complex real world situations, that have many nuances and trade-offs, and allow people to learn about them in a way that differs than just reading a long article or listening to a panel. It puts players in that world, with responsibility for making actual decisions, and with real incentives. Over and over again we’ve heard from participants about how the games opened their eyes to understanding real world events with a totally new perspective, even if they thought they’d understood them before.

The games to explore the future are slightly different, but equally useful. Most people are familiar with traditional scenario planning or even some aspects of “futurism,” but we’ve found that those processes are either boring or fall into traditional traps that make the end result not nearly as insightful or interesting. By adding a game element to them, we’ve found that, again, it really takes people out of their own pre-set perspective, and opens them up to many more creative possibilities, by putting them into different roles, with different incentives, resources, and challenges.

And today we’re releasing an open source toolkit for one of those “explore the future” games we created earlier this year, called Money City, sponsored by Grant For The Web which we ran over three separate sessions at this year’s Mozfest (Mozilla’s big annual conference).

Our game design partner, Randy Lubin of Leveraged Play, has a writeup about the ins-and-outs of the game and some of the design choices that were made in development, and we’ll be releasing a podcast later today talking more about it as well.

However, the basics of the game were to create a fun game environment in which players would take on the roles of certain factions in a dystopian futuristic world, in which more or less everything is controlled by one giant tech company: MegaCorp. The players join different factions with different goals, resources, and visions of the future, but united with one common goal: to take down MegaCorp, and rethink how society (and money) works without such a dominant force controlling everything and making all the decisions. The game explores a number of themes around money, currency, business models, competition, and just generally what kind of future we should want.

We ran three separate sessions of Money City at MozFest, with wildly different results each time. The toolkit includes recaps of these games so you can see some of the unexpected scenarios that developed — like a clandestine sabotage of MegaCorp by the city’s artificial intelligence experts, a business boom fueled by peer-to-peer loans using virtual currency from an MMO game, and a hacking scandal involving a popular line of robotic pets.

The open source toolkit includes a facilitator guide, a basic “run of show” document, and a variety of other assets needed to run the game. We ran the game on a fun virtual meeting platform called Spatial Chat, that worked great to get the atmosphere right for the game. However, knowing that many people these days use Zoom for everything, we provide some basic ideas for converting the game to Zoom (or to other virtual platforms of your choice). The game can also be converted fairly easily to in-person events (assuming those actually are coming back in the nearish future).

Alternatively, if you’re interested, you can reach out to us about running the game for you at your events or gatherings, or about running one of our other games (or commissioning new games to meet your own needs).

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Comments on “Money City: Our New Game To Explore The Future Of Money Is Now Available To Everyone”

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I find it hilarious and quite telling that The Hustle faction made up of free-marketeers isn?t the owner of MegaCorp. There should be an epilogue part of the game where The Hustle stabs the other factions in the back while trotting out buzzwords like to tell the others why it?s good that The Hustle is building MegaCorp 2.0, while funding think tanks that tell people that all they have to do is innovate harder than the multi-trillion dollar corporation if they hate it so much, and that antitrust and regulation aren?t the answer.

Mike Masnicksays:


I find it hilarious and quite telling that The Hustle faction made up of free-marketeers isn?t the owner of MegaCorp.

One of the tensions in the game is whether or not The Hustle faction wants to become the new MegaCorp. Different players take it in different directions.

There should be an epilogue part of the game where The Hustle stabs the other factions in the back

Again, in the game, some of the Hustle faction did attempt to go in that direction… Not always successfully…

Leigh Beadonsays:


This is a key possibility in the game, in fact – throughout the game, the factions face various specific decisions and their members vote on them. One that The Hustle faces is whether to join a new industry coalition being created by an ex-MegaCorp executive – and they are tempted with the offer of access to valuable equipment and other assets.

In the three games we ran, two of The Hustle teams rejected the offer, and one accepted it.

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